The best game of the season for the Leopards finished with a heartbreak 23-22 loss to East Jackson Eagles in a double-overtime finish this past Friday night.
The Leopards fought hard until the very end, but the Eagles were able to pull a last-minute touchdown to win the game.
A tight first half from both teams' allowed zero points. It was a game of three and outs, resulting in punts. Although the Leopards had several sustaining drives, including long runs from Roman Haynes and Bowen Roberts, they were not quite enough to overcome the Eagles defense.
The second half was a completely different story and another game altogether. The Leopards came out roaring with a 60-yard drive capped off with a Haynes 48 yard touchdown run. This set a definite momentum shift, and the Eagles had a tough time responding. As the Leopards continued with the onslaught, Carter Stroud intercepted the ball on the Eagle's next possession. Jace Bennett and Jonathon Moon got into the action with an incredible play with led to a safety by the Leopards, the first of the season. Moon would come alive on offense this quarter with consecutive runs that maintained the Leopards momentum as they headed into the 4th quarter.
As the 4th quarter began, Stroud scored a touchdown with a pass completion from Roberts. With 11:11 to go, Banks defense fought hard and forced East Jackson to punt. Banks fumbled the ball on the next offensive drive, and East Jackson capitalized with a drive and eventual touchdown. This gave East Jackson the spark they needed to fight back. Banks County answered with a TD by Haynes, but it was called back to the 27-yard line. An 80-yard run and a 2 point conversion by East Jackson tied the game 16-16, which led to the first overtime.
During the first overtime, neither team scored as the defense from the Leopards continued to play strong. East Jackson defense was able to block a potential threat from Cooper Smith, who had nowhere to go on the play. Banks County was given an extra attempt at a field goal, but could not capitalize.
The second overtime put East Jackson in the lead as they quickly scored a touchdown, which made the score 23-16. The Leopards responded with a touchdown pass from Bowen to Lukas Marlow, and the score was 23-22. Leopards went for the win with a 2 point conversion and set Bowen in a shotgun formation, but was intercepted by the Eagles. The Eagles won 23-22.
There was a tremendous effort by the Leopards throughout the game by both the defense and offense. Several key players emerged through the game: Bowen Roberts, Carter Stroud, Jace Bennett, Wyatt Whitfield, Jonathon Moon, Corey Vickery, Bryson Cheek, Tanner Kaminiski, Lukas Marlow, Cooper Smith and Josh Stapleton.
The Leopards do not face a region game until October 23rd, and continuing to play consistent strong offense and defense like they did Friday night, the Leopards will be contenders. The Leopards play at Lumpkin County next Friday night on September 25th and would like all fans to come and show their support in Dahlonega.